May 13, 2010 –
MAYETTA: Cecelia “Meeks” Jackson was honored last night in a ceremonial dinner at the Prairie Band Casino & Resort for her life’s work on the Prairie Band Potawatomi (PBP) Common Land and for helping to preserve the Potawatomi language.
Over 200 people attended the dinner that was sponsored by Tribal Council and the Language Department. It was a surprise to Jackson who celebrated the occasion with family members and friends.
Jackson has been instrumental for her ability to comprehend and bridge together four languages including Potawatomi, Odawa, Ojibwe and English for use in composition. She has played a key role in the development of all Language Department documents and materials that have been created since the department began in 1998. Through Jackson’s efforts a Prairie Band Potawatomi dictionary, two audio/video DVD books, and Stories of the Potawatomi book have been written as well as a grammar book recently published that was presented to her last night by Leo Nadeau of the Language Department.
Former Language Coordinator Laverne Haag gave the keynote address and said that she had learned a lot from Jackson who, in her opinion, is the last remaining fluent speaker on the Prairie Band Common Land. Other members of the Language Department also voiced their appreciation of Jackson including Nadeau, Larry Berryhill, Cindy LeClere, Billy Matchie, Lyman Shipshee, and Olivia Pewamo. Children from the language sessions also sang a couple of songs in Potawatomi.
Also speaking at the dinner was Chago Hale, who was the evening’s emcee, and Tribal Council Chairperson Steve Ortiz who thanked Jackson for her work. He was joined by other Council members including Junior Wahweotten, Chago Hale, and Carrie O’Toole who stepped to the podium to giveJackson some thank you gifts.
Following those presentations, family members were asked to speak and the evening concluded with a performance by the Little Soldier Singers and drum group who sang while members of the audience came forth to individually thank Jackson for her work.
Meeks, center, shortly after learning the dinner was for her.
Olivia Pewamo, at the podium, with Larry Berryhill, Cindy LeClere, Billy Matchie and Leo Nadeau of the Language Department. Pewamo is the new language coordinator.
Tribal Council with Meeks. Left to right, Junior Wahweotten, Chago Hale, Carrie O’Toole and Steve Ortiz. They gave Meeks the blanket she is wearing in the photo.
Children who are learning the language gathered to sing a couple of songs to Meeks last night.
Billy Matchie shows Meeks a portrait of her that was drawn by Clifford Knoxsah and given to her as a gift. On Meek’s left in the photo is granddaughter Kumos Hubbard and to the right is Meek’s daughter Jan Hubbard
Well wishers greeting Meeks.